I follow the path, well-worn, down to the river’s bank, where it opens onto a sandy shoal. The water sparkles where it enters the river – clean from the water treatment centre. They say that the river that leaves our city is cleaner than the river that enters it. I walk towards the water’s edge – there are no other footprints, mine will be the first – and I sink deep. The wet sand swallows my feet, my ankles, my calves, and I’m up to my knees in mud. The water continues to sparkle, laughing. This is why there were no other footprints – why the path ended at the edge of the sand. I laugh too, pulling my legs out of the ground. I pull pages from my notebook and use them to wipe away the worst of the mud, and then I step carefully, testing the ground at each step, finding a firm way to the water. I sit down on a large rock, remove my shoes, and dip my feet in. The mud falls away into the water, and I begin to wash my shoes as well. The dirt of this path and others comes away in the river, and settles on its bed. When I put my shoes back on, my feet feel lighter; free.